Completion and Release Appears Distant to me...

I've been following the development of D&D Next for some time now and it really seems that they aren't that near nailing down the system.  Did WotC expect to be done with development much earlier because the gap between shutting down 4e material and D&D Next seems to be growing wider and wider?

I can't argue with the "release it only when it is done" timetable, but I am wondering if they underestimated R&D on Next.

For you veterans, what was the lag between new 3.5e material coming to an end and 4e being released?


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I've been following the development of D&D Next for some time now and it really seems that they aren't that near nailing down the system.  Did WotC expect to be done with development much earlier because the gap between shutting down 4e material and D&D Next seems to be growing wider and wider?

I can't argue with the "release it only when it is done" timetable, but I am wondering if they underestimated R&D on Next.




IMHO I think it's increasingly clear that they did make more than a few miscalculations.  Given that they STILL haven't nailed down the fundamental math, I am not seeing how this is going to be ready by next Gen Con let alone sooner.....but I also don't see Hasbro allowing DND as a product line to lie fallow for very much longer either.

I am getting the increasingly sinking feeling that they will:

1.  Release it sometime next spring, unfinished and unready because of pressure from upstairs (either release it or lose it).

2.  They will cancel the project.  Honestly the Next project IMHO (as I've said elsewhere) is looking more and more like vapourware.

-Polaris
For you veterans, what was the lag between new 3.5e material coming to an end and 4e being released?




Five years, and 4e really needed a year more in the 'oven'.  3.5 was released the Summer of 03 and 4.0 was released June 2008.

-Polaris 
For you veterans, what was the lag between new 3.5e material coming to an end and 4e being released?




Five years, and 4e really needed a year more in the 'oven'.  3.5 was released the Summer of 03 and 4.0 was released June 2008.

-Polaris 



But I mean the gap between 3.5 production ending and the 4e core rulebooks hitting the shelves...not the time between the original release of both.
Anyone know what that gap was?
For you veterans, what was the lag between new 3.5e material coming to an end and 4e being released?




Five years, and 4e really needed a year more in the 'oven'.  3.5 was released the Summer of 03 and 4.0 was released June 2008.

-Polaris 



But I mean the gap between 3.5 production ending and the 4e core rulebooks hitting the shelves...not the time between the original release of both.
Anyone know what that gap was?



Sorry, I should have guessed that's what you really wanted.  3.X pretty much shut down after Gen Con of 2007 (some would say 2007 entirely).  There was some support for 3.X but it was increasingly system less.  Production had been going down for 3.X before then, but it production only tanked when 4e was announced (Gen Con 2007).

-Polaris
The gap was about 9 months as Dragon and Dungeon stopped in Sep 2007 and IIRC the last offical 3.5 books were end of 2007 IIRC. 3rd party stuff kept going.

 Some second ed material went up through 2000 IIRC and Dragon and Dungeon both changed over in the month the new edition came out with 1st-2nd and 2nd-3rd. 1st ed PHB books were still being printed about a year into 2nd ed IIRC. 

 The 2 year gap between the end of 4th and new D&DN stuff is unprecedented in D&D even with the TSR/WoTC buyout. No in print Dungeon/Dragon probably helps that impression. Yes I know technically 4th ed is still going due to DDI but it is like claiming BECMI lasted until 1994 as that was when the last adventure for it was printed in Dungeon.

 Fear is the Mind Killer

 

So it's safe to say that WotC will be leaving 4e players w/o new material for a significantly longer time before the next edition comes out than what  3.5 players experienced back in 2007-2008? 

It seems to me that is evidence that they expected Next to be out sooner...and that's not a good sign.  The sale of the D&D Next Ghosts of Dragonspear Castle "beta product" at GenCon this year is an even more awkward sign to me that they expected a more solid product release earlier...because to me the sale of any D&D Next materials while the game is still in a playtest period is a little bizarre. 

I watched the latest playtest with Mike Mearls and the Podcast follow-up and, more than ever, I get the sense that they're flailing around a bit.  Don't get me wrong...these guys know their craft and are dedicated to D&D's success, but it just seems they are caught in a loop of endless tweaks and changes that come with a playtest and community feedback on the scale they have invited.  I remember a Bismarck quote: "Laws are like sausages, it's better to not see them being made".  I think about that latest playtest video and, for me, it gives me more cause for concern than confidence that they are about to deliver the next, great rpg.  This whole public playtest process, and the effort of WotC to be very transparent about their production process certainly have their good points....but, as a consumer, it makes me question if they have an exciting, new vision for the game. 

Is it possible that, in their effort to get 3.5 and 4e players to again rally under one flag, they are vacillating and hedging their bets in an endless, and likely hopeless, effort to make a game that pleases both groups?

I want to be wrong...I want Next to come out within a year and be the "ultimate" D&D experience...I am just not encouraged by what I am seeing and reading(here on the Wizards forums and elsewhere).   I want to post on here(hopefully not three years from now), "It was worth the wait and I worried for nothing...silly me".
I watched the latest playtest with Mike Mearls and the Podcast follow-up and, more than ever, I get the sense that they're flailing around a bit.  Don't get me wrong...these guys know their craft and are dedicated to D&D's success, but it just seems they are caught in a loop of endless tweaks and changes that come with a playtest and community feedback on the scale they have invited.  I remember a Bismarck quote: "Laws are like sausages, it's better to not see them being made".  I think about that latest playtest video and, for me, it gives me more cause for concern than confidence that they are about to deliver the next, great rpg. 



Define "know their craft".  I've followed and am familiar with Mike's work from before he joined Wotc.  Heck I played his Iron Heros game (the first edition he designed) when he worked for Monte Cook.  Mike is a terrific ideas person but he gets a little vague (to put it as nicely as possible) when it comes down to nailing those ideas down into a quantative framework that actually works.  That's not so bad in itself.....if the Next Team had a person or persons in his ear that WERE good at this sort of mathematical scut work.  Unfortunately this does not seem to be the case....and it shows.

-Polaris 

Edit PS:  One of the most encouraging things I heard in the podcast is apparently they DO at least know enough to do purely mechanical (arena style) "stress tests" so they aren't completely clueless   However, if half of your equation (the monsters) are wrong, I don't know what that says about their stress tests of character class abilities.  I smell a possible cascade failure.
I've been following the development of D&D Next for some time now and it really seems that they aren't that near nailing down the system.  Did WotC expect to be done with development much earlier because the gap between shutting down 4e material and D&D Next seems to be growing wider and wider?

I can't argue with the "release it only when it is done" timetable, but I am wondering if they underestimated R&D on Next.

For you veterans, what was the lag between new 3.5e material coming to an end and 4e being released?



There is a larger gap than normal, as far as I can tell. The re-release of older edition books has helped, and they've made a few books that might be considered 4E, but are basically edition neutral (Ed Greenwood Presents the Realms, and Mezzoboranzen [sp?] for example).

It is also unknown what stage the playtest is really in, because we don't know the plan. If this is a linear playtest, then we are way behind schedule, because the current plackets are not going to cut it. If it's non-linear, then we don't even know if we'll get to playtest everything before it goes to print.
I've been following the development of D&D Next for some time now and it really seems that they aren't that near nailing down the system.  Did WotC expect to be done with development much earlier because the gap between shutting down 4e material and D&D Next seems to be growing wider and wider?

I can't argue with the "release it only when it is done" timetable, but I am wondering if they underestimated R&D on Next.

For you veterans, what was the lag between new 3.5e material coming to an end and 4e being released?



There is a larger gap than normal, as far as I can tell. The re-release of older edition books has helped, and they've made a few books that might be considered 4E, but are basically edition neutral (Ed Greenwood Presents the Realms, and Mezzoboranzen [sp?] for example).

It is also unknown what stage the playtest is really in, because we don't know the plan. If this is a linear playtest, then we are way behind schedule, because the current plackets are not going to cut it. If it's non-linear, then we don't even know if we'll get to playtest everything before it goes to print.



To be completely fair to Wotc, the ongoing DDI which 4e players continue to use does help.  How much?  I don't know.

-Polaris
It's not as if there's no 4e content, the magazines are still coming out. In another thread I speculated that (other than maybe core books) Next might be entirely electronic, so the current situation - regular subscription content plus DnDClassics PDFs - might foreshadow what Next is going to look like.

Personally, I'm actually encouraged by how long the playtest is going, and the fact that Wizards is still changing even basic stuff around at this point. When the playtest started I thought it might have been more of a marketing thing than an actual playtest - we'd get to "test" a pared down version of the new edition to drum up enthusiasm for the full release. Now it looks like they're actually involving fans in the process and they're actually still working on the game, and I like that.

With 4e, a lot of my friends didn't like it at first mainly because the race and class options they had in 3.5 weren't there yet. I don't mean to imply that 4e was "rushed out" or anything, but to fans of 3.5 it definitely felt unfinished, and I'm willing to sit through a longer wait if we can avoid that feeling with Next.
I dunno I liked having them role out the game with a less expansive list of options, I think it's better to do 8 classes right than 11 poorly. Plus it allowed them to take a long look at the game they had created before they started adding in the barbarian and such. I really liked phb2, i don't think the content would have been as good if it had been crammed into the phb 1. Phb3 felt a bit rushed, the minotaur especially.
I dunno I liked having them role out the game with a less expansive list of options, I think it's better to do 8 classes right than 11 poorly. Plus it allowed them to take a long look at the game they had created before they started adding in the barbarian and such. I really liked phb2, i don't think the content would have been as good if it had been crammed into the phb 1. Phb3 felt a bit rushed, the minotaur especially.



I for one am not willing to spend $100 just for all the PHB classes and races. That was one of the biggest turn offs for 4th edition for me.
If you want a race/class you buy the book it's in.

That's always been the rule.

HOw's this different? 
They announced a long time ago - I think as far back as 2012 - that the books were definitively not coming out in 2013, which means that their timeline extends at least a year into the future.

What I expect is that the playtest packets will probably continue to look kind of aimless and scattershot and the notes on what they're doing will be similar for a while. Then at some point we'll see sort of a big lurch forward as they start tentatively locking things into place. That could be something we see as early as the next packet, or it could be something that doesn't start happening until next year. 
Dwarves invented beer so they could toast to their axes. Dwarves invented axes to kill people and take their beer. Swanmay Syndrome: Despite the percentages given in the Monster Manual, in reality 100% of groups of swans contain a Swanmay, because otherwise the DM would not have put any swans in the game.
If you want a race/class you buy the book it's in.

That's always been the rule.

HOw's this different? 



They missed classic classes like the Bard and Druid and we got new classes like the Warlord.

More or less stopped you from converting 3.5 PCs when 5/11 classes are outright missing. It would be like D&DN coming out with 4 maybe 5 of the 8 PHB classes and dumping 1 or two of the core 4 classes. 8 classes had been in every PHB from 1st-3rd ed.

 Fear is the Mind Killer

 

OK how are the bard and druid classic?
OK how are the bard and druid classic?


Because they were in the original PHB, waaaay back when?  nevermind that the Bard was in the appendicies with the Psionics rules.
Ahh, so THIS is where I can add a sig. Remember: Killing an ancient God inside of a pyramid IS a Special Occasion, and thus, ladies should be dipping into their Special Occasions underwear drawer.
Original PHB? really Because I'm not sure the rogue was in the first Player's handbook.

Furthermore classes get dropped/added from edition to edition all the time.

Assassin, elf, and dwarf for example.

 
If you want a race/class you buy the book it's in.

That's always been the rule.

HOw's this different? 



They missed classic classes like the Bard and Druid and we got new classes like the Warlord.

More or less stopped you from converting 3.5 PCs when 5/11 classes are outright missing. It would be like D&DN coming out with 4 maybe 5 of the 8 PHB classes and dumping 1 or two of the core 4 classes. 8 classes had been in every PHB from 1st-3rd ed.



For prosperities sake here is how the editions broke down:

1st Edition Ad&D - 6 classes (Bard, Cleric, Monk, Thief, Fighter and Magic-user) + 5 Sub-classes (Druid, Assassin, Paladin, Ranger, Illusionist)

2nd Edition AD&D - 8 classes (Fighter, Paladin, Ranger, Mage, Cleric, Druid, Thief and Bard) + 2 Specialist classes (Specialist Wizard, Specific Mythos Priests)

3rd Edition - 11 classes (Barbarian, Bard, Cleric, Druid, Fighter, Monk, Paladin, Ranger, Rogue, Sorcerer and Wizard)

4th Edition - 8 classes (Cleric, Fighter, Paladin, Ranger, Rogue, Warlock, Warlord and Wizard) + each class had 2 build options
I've been following the development of D&D Next for some time now and it really seems that they aren't that near nailing down the system.  Did WotC expect to be done with development much earlier because the gap between shutting down 4e material and D&D Next seems to be growing wider and wider?

I can't argue with the "release it only when it is done" timetable, but I am wondering if they underestimated R&D on Next.

For you veterans, what was the lag between new 3.5e material coming to an end and 4e being released?


I understand your concerns for the long development time, but as others have already stated, they planned on a long timeline. It makes sense too. Why rush a product if it's not done?

People complaining about lack of 4e material is kind of silly, actually. There are mountains and mountains of books, articles, and adventures available for 4e. Not to mention all the stuff that's availale for 3e, 2e, 1e, etc. I would find it very very hard to believe that a DM doesn't have "enough material to run a game".

Also, please ignore all the 'sky-is-falling' nay-sayers you see posting here. Many of them haven't even played any games in this playtest but they feel the need to complain about it anyway. It's one thing to make a post that you ran a playtest, tried this particular rule, and it didn't work well. That's useful information. That's what we are supposed to be doing.

Please introduce yourself to the new D&D 5e forums in this very friendly thread started by Pukunui!

 

Make 5e Saving Throws better using Ramzour's Six Ability Save System!

 

Giving classes iconic abilities that don't break the game: Ramzour's Class Defining Ability system.

Rules for a simple non-XP based leveling up system, using the Proficiency Bonus

 

Speaking as one of those naysayers, YOU THINK I HAVEN'T TRIED! When I signed my players up they looked at the packets and said, "Meh waste of time, this game sucks." They were smart enough to look at the game see the same problems that were there in 3e and decided not to put up with it again.

That's really the source of most of my naysaying, the 5e devs are makign all the same mistakes we got sick of in 3e, only now it feals liek they're doing it on purpose rather than as honest mistakes. 
Did WotC expect to be done with development much earlier because the gap between shutting down 4e material and D&D Next seems to be growing wider and wider?

I can't argue with the "release it only when it is done" timetable, but I am wondering if they underestimated R&D on Next.

It's hard to say what they thought or what they're doing, exactly.  It may just be that they are /really/ strapped for resources.   


For you veterans, what was the lag between new 3.5e material coming to an end and 4e being released?

Six months, from Dec 2007 to June 2008:  they didn't have an open playtest, had some very strong talent working to defined goals, had at least some buy-in from Hasbro (and thus what must seem like a lot of resources by RPG industry standards), and didn't plan a long gap between last 3.5 product and first 4e product (did have a deadline).

 
That's really the source of most of my naysaying, the 5e devs are makign all the same mistakes we got sick of in 3e, only now it feals liek they're doing it on purpose rather than as honest mistakes. 

According to Monte Cook in "Ivory Tower Game Design," at least some of those 'mistakes' /were/ on purpose, to 'reward system mastery.'

What I expect is that the playtest packets will probably continue to look kind of aimless and scattershot and the notes on what they're doing will be similar for a while. Then at some point we'll see sort of a big lurch forward as they start tentatively locking things into place.

Alternate theory:  5e will eventually go into some sort of closed beta test, and we'll get our first hint at what they finally settled when the books are released.  

5e really needs something like Wrecan's SARN-FU to support "Theatre of the Mind."

"You want The Tooth?  You can't handle The Tooth!"  - Dahlver-Nar.

"If magic is unrestrained in the campaign, D&D quickly degenerates into a weird wizard show where players get bored quickly"  - E. Gary Gygax

 

 

Oops, looks like this request tried to create an infinite loop. We do not allow such things here. We are a professional website!

I watched the latest playtest with Mike Mearls and the Podcast follow-up and, more than ever, I get the sense that they're flailing around a bit.  Don't get me wrong...these guys know their craft and are dedicated to D&D's success, but it just seems they are caught in a loop of endless tweaks and changes that come with a playtest and community feedback on the scale they have invited.  I remember a Bismarck quote: "Laws are like sausages, it's better to not see them being made".  I think about that latest playtest video and, for me, it gives me more cause for concern than confidence that they are about to deliver the next, great rpg. 



Define "know their craft".  I've followed and am familiar with Mike's work from before he joined Wotc.  Heck I played his Iron Heros game (the first edition he designed) when he worked for Monte Cook.  Mike is a terrific ideas person but he gets a little vague (to put it as nicely as possible) when it comes down to nailing those ideas down into a quantative framework that actually works.  That's not so bad in itself.....if the Next Team had a person or persons in his ear that WERE good at this sort of mathematical scut work.  Unfortunately this does not seem to be the case....and it shows.

-Polaris



I thought that Jeremy Crawford was the guy incharge of the mechanical development - not Mike.

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If you want a race/class you buy the book it's in.

That's always been the rule.

HOw's this different? 



They missed classic classes like the Bard and Druid and we got new classes like the Warlord.

More or less stopped you from converting 3.5 PCs when 5/11 classes are outright missing. It would be like D&DN coming out with 4 maybe 5 of the 8 PHB classes and dumping 1 or two of the core 4 classes. 8 classes had been in every PHB from 1st-3rd ed.



For prosperities sake here is how the editions broke down:

1st Edition Ad&D - 6 classes (Bard, Cleric, Monk, Thief, Fighter and Magic-user) + 5 Sub-classes (Druid, Assassin, Paladin, Ranger, Illusionist)

2nd Edition AD&D - 8 classes (Fighter, Paladin, Ranger, Mage, Cleric, Druid, Thief and Bard) + 2 Specialist classes (Specialist Wizard, Specific Mythos Priests)

3rd Edition - 11 classes (Barbarian, Bard, Cleric, Druid, Fighter, Monk, Paladin, Ranger, Rogue, Sorcerer and Wizard)

4th Edition - 8 classes (Cleric, Fighter, Paladin, Ranger, Rogue, Warlock, Warlord and Wizard) + each class had 2 build options



You forgot a few...

OD&D - I honestly cant' decide whether I should say 3 classes (Fighting man, magic-user, and cleric) or to add in the other 5 added by Greyhawk, Blackmoor, and Eldritch Wizardry (paladin, thief, monk, assassin, and druid) - and I certainly don't know whether to call demi-humans their own classes or not since they used the standard class stuff (pretty much)

Basic (holmes) - 4 classes for sure (fighting-man, cleric, magic-user, and thief) plus dwarf, elf, and halfling that pretty much still used those 4 classes

B/X & BECM - 7 classes (fighter, cleric, magic-user, thief, dwarf, elf, and halfling)
...though it may be worth noting that during the BECM run of things many more character options started popping up in the gazetteers and supplement books (including trolls, treants, pixies, and lycanthropes, plus stuff like demi-humans with different classes like dwarven clerics)

Rules Cyclopedia - 8 classes (the 7 from BECM, plus Mystic).

There... that should basically cover everything.

ATTENTION:  If while reading my post you find yourself thinking "Either this guy is being sarcastic, or he is an idiot," do please assume that I am an idiot. It makes reading your replies more entertaining. If, however, you find yourself hoping that I am not being even remotely serious then you are very likely correct as I find irreverence and being ridiculous to be relaxing.

You missed the Druid from the Rules Cyclopedia. 

 Fear is the Mind Killer

 

Just to note, I'd rather wait for a finished product, than get monthly patches errata.
I have an answer for you, it may even be the truth.
I'm willing to wait for a good product.
I just bought ACKs so I suppose I'm not that patient. Seems to be some sort of 1981 retroclone did not know hat much about it but it will give me something to read over the next week. 

 Fear is the Mind Killer

 

I think the point about the "classic" classes is that they want a new edition which will, right from the beginning, allow people to convert their current games. 4e didn't make that easy since some of the classics from second and third edition (bards, druids, barbarians and sorcerers) weren't immediately convertable, to say nothing of particular specializations/variants/subclasses of the existing classes like illusionists.
I've been following the development of D&D Next for some time now and it really seems that they aren't that near nailing down the system.  Did WotC expect to be done with development much earlier because the gap between shutting down 4e material and D&D Next seems to be growing wider and wider?

I can't argue with the "release it only when it is done" timetable, but I am wondering if they underestimated R&D on Next.

For you veterans, what was the lag between new 3.5e material coming to an end and 4e being released?



There is a larger gap than normal, as far as I can tell. The re-release of older edition books has helped, and they've made a few books that might be considered 4E, but are basically edition neutral (Ed Greenwood Presents the Realms, and Mezzoboranzen [sp?] for example).

It is also unknown what stage the playtest is really in, because we don't know the plan. If this is a linear playtest, then we are way behind schedule, because the current plackets are not going to cut it. If it's non-linear, then we don't even know if we'll get to playtest everything before it goes to print.



To be completely fair to Wotc, the ongoing DDI which 4e players continue to use does help.  How much?  I don't know.

-Polaris


Yea, I forgot about DDI. My regular group dropped it when we switched to 2E, and most individuals I know IRL dropped it shortly after Next was announced. For anyone who still regularly plays 4E, DDI is a great resource.

I hope they continue DDI for Next, but keep the stuff they already have for 4E and add some stuff for other old editions as well. This will provide a small bit of support for people who decide that Next isn't for them, but still want to play an older edition of D&D.
I thought that Jeremy Crawford was the guy incharge of the mechanical development - not Mike.



Jeremy Crawford certainly contributed to IH as a whole, the Iron Heros Game itself (at least the first alternate PHB) was almost entirely Mike Mearl's baby (including the cover credit).  You don't even see Crawford in the credits (at least I didn't when I opened up my old first edition IH book).  You may be thinkiing about the Player's Companion (which amounted to a second edition of IH) made later on after Mike left for Wotc.

-Polaris

P.S.  Even Monte Cook who was Mike's boss at the time, kept a fairly strict hands-off policy on the project.
I thought that Jeremy Crawford was the guy incharge of the mechanical development - not Mike.



Jeremy Crawford certainly contributed to IH as a whole, the Iron Heros Game itself (at least the first alternate PHB) was almost entirely Mike Mearl's baby (including the cover credit).  You don't even see Crawford in the credits (at least I didn't when I opened up my old first edition IH book).  You may be thinkiing about the Player's Companion (which amounted to a second edition of IH) made later on after Mike left for Wotc.

-Polaris

P.S.  Even Monte Cook who was Mike's boss at the time, kept a fairly strict hands-off policy on the project.



I am talking about the design of DnD Next.

It is no point looking at Mikes credits if Jeremy is the mechanical guy.

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It is if they've worked together in the past.
It's pretty clear to me that this playtest isn't going as smoothly as they planned given that...
a. a lead developer is still discussing a core mechanic( saves) a year into development.
b. the gap in time between 4e publishing and 5e release is ever-widening
c.  The release of a published D&D Next module by a third party is imminent without game mechanics even being solidified(which I find rather bizarre)

Have the developers ever admitted(or hinted) as much?  I get the "when it is done it is done" mantra but I have to believe someone over at Hasbro didn't agree to such an open-ended timetable.

I am still rooting for Next, but I am not encouraged by the above.


They would have been better off just releasing the re-prints and compilations of older editions while trying to get back on the 4e horse.

I'm serious, there was a story about a guy and spaghetti sauce polls floating around here durign the early play test days that said it best. You're never gonna please everyone and you'll never get them all to agree, so don't waste time finding the one perfect thing, just make the 2-3 that will get you the most money.

I'd bet for the same amount of effort/time/money they could have released all the same re-prints/compilations/pdfs, continued 4e, and just revived a few oldschool products instead fo trying to find some mythical one game.
They would have been better off just releasing the re-prints and compilations of older editions while trying to get back on the 4e horse.

I'm serious, there was a story about a guy and spaghetti sauce polls floating around here durign the early play test days that said it best. You're never gonna please everyone and you'll never get them all to agree, so don't waste time finding the one perfect thing, just make the 2-3 that will get you the most money. 


If Monday I checked this forum and the developers posted something to the effect of:
"While we endeavored to redefine D&D through the creation of the D&D Next system,  it has become clear that the public playtest and our design approach has not yielded this result.  Going forward, we will be dedicating our efforts to refining the 4th edition of our product in exciting ways that both honors our commitment to current players, while adding components to address the concerns of those who want the game to play differently.  We have gleaned much from our players' feedback as well as the evolution of our 4th edition game, and we look forward to making the D&D experience better than it ever has been."
I really wonder if there are internal discussions to this effect....probably not but I hope so.   
It's not as if there's no 4e content, the magazines are still coming out.

They may still be out, but they're as close to no 4e content as you can get.

Basically the adventures in Dungeon are all 4e content that is still delivered, the rest is 99% fluff.

No more class acts, no more powers or feats, maybe an item here and there if the 4e players are lucky.

The designers even flat out stated that they see 4e as done as far as releasing new crunch is concerned

I've been following the development of D&D Next for some time now and it really seems that they aren't that near nailing down the system.  Did WotC expect to be done with development much earlier because the gap between shutting down 4e material and D&D Next seems to be growing wider and wider?

I can't argue with the "release it only when it is done" timetable, but I am wondering if they underestimated R&D on Next.

For you veterans, what was the lag between new 3.5e material coming to an end and 4e being released?


Work on 4e loosly started in early 2005, so it was developed over three years, with much of the work occuring in 2007. 
They started 5e in 2011 so we're already on year two, so aiming for a GenCon 2014 release is quite realistic, being the same time it took to release 4e, with more dedicated time devoted to the editon and far more playtesting.  

So it's safe to say that WotC will be leaving 4e players w/o new material for a significantly longer time before the next edition comes out than what  3.5 players experienced back in 2007-2008?


Yes, very much so. The editon isn't taking any longer to create, the difference is WotC let us know it was coming sooner and they released fewer 4e products after the announcement, with two books with the 4e ruleset compared half-dozen or so for 3e.

It seems to me that is evidence that they expected Next to be out sooner...and that's not a good sign.


No, they said last year that they were planning for a two-year playtest process. So they're still on schedule. 

The sale of the D&D Next Ghosts of Dragonspear Castle "beta product" at GenCon this year is an even more awkward sign to me that they expected a more solid product release earlier...because to me the sale of any D&D Next materials while the game is still in a playtest period is a little bizarre.


Paizo released a Beta product for their game a year before it's release, and Fantasy Flight Games did something simmialr with Star Wars, releasing a Beta book at GenCon 2012 for the game that just released. 
The beta product for GenCon just feels like that, another beta product that's also a nice Con exclusive.
 
And we had two preview books for 4e as well: Races & Classes and Worlds & Monsters (IIRC) that served as filler products. We had quite a few filler products between 3e and 4e. That's pretty much what all the reprints we're seeing are: quick filler to generate some easy profit during the development. 

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Also check out my books at 5mwd.com/publishingIncluding Jester David's How-To Guide to Fantasy Worldbuildinga compilation of my blog series on Worldbuilding.

 

I for one share the concerns expressed in this thread. I think it is a quite realistic scenario at this point that the D&DN project will be cancelled and the product line put out of production. That would be a sad day indeed for both D&D and the hobby.

It's pretty clear to me that this playtest isn't going as smoothly as they planned given that...
a. a lead developer is still discussing a core mechanic( saves) a year into development.


That was the plan.
Making classes is fast. They can design a class in a week, but that means nothing if the Core system does not work. 

This was part of the problem with 4e, they kept changing the core game and math right until the end, writing and re-writing until they were making changes as the books were being written. It was harder to notice flaws in the base game when everything was continually changing.
 
With 5e they seem much more interested in getting the base experience done and done right then working on all the classes. Let's face it, saving throws in the game are a problem. But those haven't changed in a year, but that's the type of problem that you really only notice after playing for a while. Without a year of playtesting that might have been missed. 

b. the gap in time between 4e publishing and 5e release is ever-widening


This isn't a big deal. There was always going to be a larger gap because they weren't springing the new edition on us when it was almost done.

c.  The release of a published D&D Next module by a third party is imminent without game mechanics even being solidified(which I find rather bizarre)


The GenCon module is being done by WotC, it's just being sold by a different company (2nd Party technically, as it's a direct licencing). 

Have the developers ever admitted(or hinted) as much?  I get the "when it is done it is done" mantra but I have to believe someone over at Hasbro didn't agree to such an open-ended timetable.


I doubt Hasbro even cares. WotC is its own company. There are likely monthly meetings at best reporting to Hasbro execs, but this is likely Big Picture stuff with Magic taking the forefront. D&D is small potatoes. And as the D&D brand can continue to generate money through licencing (the video games) and board games the RPG is thus a fraction of a fraction.

5 Minute WorkdayMy Webcomic Updated Tue & Thur

Also check out my books at 5mwd.com/publishingIncluding Jester David's How-To Guide to Fantasy Worldbuildinga compilation of my blog series on Worldbuilding.